How ad regulation keeps its checks in check and balances balanced

Aug 29th '23

As the writer of the rules and guidance for UK advertising, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) are focussed on ensuring work and policies are fair, balanced and effective. They need to make sure the public is protected from any potential harms while also being careful not to place undue constraint on advertisers, helping to support the role that ads play in delivering healthy competition and consumer choice.


Whenever they’re creating new rules or adjusting existing ones, they have appropriate regard to the principles of good regulation:


  • Transparent: clarify the intent of ad rules, and how they  go about developing them
  • Proportionate: ensure that they weigh up the evidence of potential advertising harm against the restrictions set by the rules, so that they don’t act unfairly
  • Targeted: ensure ad rules are clearly focused on the issues causing detriment, and that they are designed to tackle them specifically
  • Consistent: rules are in harmony with what CAP, other regulators and the law requires and they apply fairly and proportionately to advertisers
  • Accountable: just as CAP hold advertisers to account, they also hold ourselves responsible to Ofcom, the Government and the public, and take their feedback on board
  • Evidence-based: make decisions based on the facts


In practice, this means they’re committed to open, thoughtful decision-making. CAP launch consultations, taking in the views of interested parties, Government, industry and consumer groups to ensure ad rules are thorough and fair. CAP regularly call for and review the latest evidence to ensure the rules and guidance are fit-for-purpose.


With the Advertising Advisory Committee, an independent expert panel, we get consumer perspective on policy proposals. Through contract with Ofcom, CAP operate under accountability frameworks with them. CAP engage extensively with Government and Parliamentary Select Committees, and they’re subject to judicial review.


At every stage, CAP strives to hold itself accountable to advertising’s key stakeholders, most obviously the public and the advertising industry. By ensuring they’re committed to the principles of good regulation, not just in spirit but in practice, they protect consumers while allowing responsible businesses to flourish.


Check out the infographic below to find out more about the checks and balances that CAP is subject and committed to.





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